At this point in the year, many of you will be thinking about the transition from kindergarten into school.
While this is a time of great excitement and opportunity, we recognise it can also be a time of anxiety for both children and their families, particularly after the last year when there has been great disruption due to COVID-19. However, with a little preparation and encouragement, you can begin to instil the skills they need to succeed in the classroom and start school with a confident smile.
Here at Britannica, our staff have a wealth of experience in supporting children during this time of transition in their learning journey and are experts at helping your child quickly develop happy and productive friendships with peers and a warm and supportive relationship with adults at school, settled and ready to thrive in their learning.
So, regardless of whether you are joining Britannica this summer or choosing a different school, what can you as parents do to prepare your child for this transition? Here are some useful tips from our Key Stage 1 team.
Children take their cues from you. If you are curious, your child will be curious. If you are having fun trying new things, so will they. Praise and positive reinforcement is very important. If your child sees that you are proud of their achievements, it gives them the confidence and desire to learn more!
Chat to them about starting school, what it will be like, what they are particularly looking forward to or worried about. Show them photos of when you were in school and share happy memories to get them excited about this new phase without feeling anxious. This is an excellent way to show a positive attitude to learning.
Take them to new, COVID-friendly places – the park, grocery store, playground, post office - and ask them to describe what they see and feel. It is very important for them to be able to communicate their feelings, and this takes a lot of practise. It also allows them to meet new people and play with other children.
Have regular conversations, point out things you see – is it a green tree or a blue coat (colours), is it a big dog or a little dog (sizes), are there two red cars or three (counting)… Talk about the importance of sharing, and practise this too.
Read, read, read! Read lots of stories together daily. Talk about what you have read and ask them to describe the illustrations in the books. You might also like to read books about emotions and starting school, and discuss what is happening to the characters. This can help to ease any anxieties your child might have about going to school, it gets them excited, and will help them to be able to articulate their emotions better at school when they face a challenge.
Practise writing letters, especially their name for example. Do it in a fun, multi-sensory way with finger paint on paper, a bucket of water and a paintbrush outside on the pavement - or chalk for more colourful results, or in shaving cream in the bathtub!
Children should practise writing their name starting with a capital letter, followed by all lowercase letters. This is how they’ll learn to do it in school, so if that’s how you’ve been practising it at home, it’ll be all the more easier for them to do in class.Top tip from Miss Wolland, KS1 Coordinator
Direct their activities but let them decide how they want to spend their time, allowing them to make their own choices rather than deciding everything for them. Discuss why they made their choices.
Introduce new tasks such as putting away their own clothes before bedtime, tying their own shoelaces or putting their own coat on before you leave the house. Encourage them to finish these even when they are difficult, to teach them perseverance.
Remember, it is completely natural for you to feel nervous about your child starting school but be mindful that they can easily pick up on your emotions, so try to stay relaxed and positive. A visit to your chosen school together might be perfect for putting your mind at ease - if this is not possible during this COVID period, ask your chosen school to share some fun school tour videos for you to watch at home together. Many times, these will be filmed from a student perspective, which is great for engaging your little ones. Setting up healthy morning and bedtime routines will also go a long way to support a smooth transition into school, allowing your child to concentrate, learn and thrive at school.
It will make for an easier transition if your child already has confidence in these self-care skills before they start school, to allow them to feel good about themselves and believe they can succeed in other areas of their learning:
Washing their hands – Particularly during this time, good hand hygiene is very important. Have a chat with your child about the importance of washing their hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet or before snack and lunchtime. You can conduct a fun ‘germ’ experiment together to demonstrate the power of soap in keeping germs away!
Using a tissue – Similarly to the hand hygiene, cough and sneeze hygiene is also very important. Use the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ routine – catch your sneeze or runny nose in a tissue, put it in the bin, then wash your hands.
Going to the loo – Your child should be confident in getting to the toilet on time, wiping properly, flushing, then washing their hands.
Dressing themselves – Practicing things like zipping up their coat or tying their shoelaces will go a long way to make your child feel more confident and independent at school.
Feeding themselves – School lunch and morning snack is available daily here at Britannica, and children will be expected to feed themselves using their cutlery. As such, they should get some practice in using basic cutlery, carrying a plate or tray, or being able to open their own water bottles/snacks if brought from home.
Tidying up after themselves – Support your child in getting into the habit of being tidy – hanging up their coat after a walk, helping you clear the table after dinner, putting away their toys before bedtime.
Naptime is not part of the daily routine at most schools, including Britannica. This is one of the biggest differences that your child might need to get used to. You should keep this in mind and, if your child still has naps in kindergarten, you should start phasing this out. A good bedtime routine will make this easier.
Similarly, if your child has a favourite toy or security blanket, try to get them used to being without it during the day, and ask if the school will allow them to bring it in and leave it in their cubby for the day.
Your child does not need to be able to read, write or count before they start school. Here at Britannica, and many other international schools around the world, children will successfully settle into school with a wide range of abilities and background, and the teachers are experts in guiding these young learners to progress at their own pace.
Before they start school, children should have a basic understanding of themselves, of other people, places and things around them, and how to interact with the world. This is the foundation on which we build literacy, numeracy and other skills at school that will define their academic success along their learning journey.
If your child is already attending kindergarten (óvoda, preschool, nursery, early years etc), they will already be used to things like spending time away from you, playing with other children, following instructions from and communicating with other adults, and tidying up after themselves.
If your child hasn’t attended such a childcare setting as yet, do not worry! Playing with other children on the playground by your house, or with family and friends is all good practice for developing friendships at school. We encourage you to join family events and outings to help integrate your child and also to allow you to talk about your emotions with other parents who are in a similar situation as you.
Your chosen school will likely arrange special events ahead of the start of term to allow you to meet your child’s teachers, mingle with other families, see the school and your visit child’s classroom, all of which supports this settling-in process. Here at Britannica, we organise a Teddy Bear Picnic ahead of the first day of school - inviting the entire family, together with your child’s favourite toy, into Britannica for an informal morning where the children can meet each other, have fun together in our Pirate Cove, take a tour of the Garden Corridor and visit their classroom for some creative activities, so that they can come to school knowing their teachers, their surroundings and be confident in their learning.
Remember, you know your child best. It is important for you to develop a good relationship with your child’s class teacher so that if you have any questions or concerns, or anything you think might help your child to feel settled, you can reach out to them with confidence to reassure you.
We are keen to support families who are either considering or have already chosen Britannica for this next phase in their child’s learning journey in August 2021.
Mrs Marie Moreton, Head of Primary, and Miss Rosie Wolland, Key Stage 1 Coordinator have recently ran a virtual Preparing Your Child for School workshop for parents.
The workshop covered what steps we take at Britannica to ensure your child quickly develops happy and productive friendships with peers, a warm and supportive relationship with adults in our Garden Corridor and how we prepare our little learners for the challenges of Key Stage 1 in a fun and mindful way. We also discussed what families can do at home to prepare little ones for the next step in their learning journey. You are welcome to view the recording of this session by clicking on the button below.
As ever, if you would like to find out more information about joining our school, reach out to our Admissions team, who would be delighted to assist you.